HERE is a story that officials of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) may not want to know or read about. Nevertheless, it should be told to remind MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino that it may be time for him to order a lifestyle check on his officials and traffic enforcers who may be living beyond their means.
Let me share with readers of The Manila Times an old story on corruption that involves the MMDA.
A passenger paid the driver of a public utility vehicle P1. Told that he should pay P1.25, the man said, “Para beinte singko lang….” (For only 25 centavos…) The incomplete sentence triggered the debate with the driver having a slight edge at the end when he said: “Malaki hong bagay ang beinte-singko sentimos. Marami ho akong pamilyang pinakakain.” (Twenty-five centavos mean much to me because I have many families to feed.
At this point, a woman passenger butted in: Kasalanan ba namin kung kayong mga driver maraming asawa?” (Is it our fault that you, drivers, have many wives?)
Then the driver explained: “Oho. Marami ho akong pamilya. Pamilya ho ng pulis at saka MMDA”. (Yes, I am feeding many families, including the families of policemen and MMDA traffic enforcers.)
Of course, the police and the MMDA would not find this story amusing. It is, in fact, insulting to them. But who is to take the blame for the impression that MMDA traffic men are also corrupt?
In fairness to the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the entire MMDA traffic force, most of their men are honest. But the bad eggs among them have contaminated the forces’ reputation that the public would not trust anyone of them anymore.
Recently, Tolentino intervened to defend one of his men. His intervention, which has made it worse for the MMDA men, is the main reason why Due Diligencer deviated from the corporate subject that usually appears in this space. Here is how I look at the incident:
The car owner has now been condemned without trial while the MMDA traffic enforcer has been enjoying the limelight for standing up to him. It seems no one had a first-hand account of the incident but most of the comments posted on Facebook were favorable to the MMDA man.
Even Tolentino has only kind words for his man, who, to him, was only doing his job. Really? How could he then undertake a fair investigation if he had already prejudged the guilt of the other party?
Who between the car owner and the traffic officer was the aggressor and who was the victim has yet to be established, but to the MMDA chief, his officer has been right all along. This shows how powerful the social media is in creating public opinion in anyone’s favor to the point of deciding who is guilty and who is innocent.
Because the car driver owns a Maserati, he must belong to a wealthy family. This is probably the reason why Tolentino went all out for his man, who he felt, needed him most in his encounter with the rich and famous. If he could not reward his man with a salary increase for doing his job, at least he could provide him moral support.
After so much has been ventilated in the media, will Tolentino still investigate what has become a much publicized traffic incident between his man and the car owner? If he does, then he would have a ready conclusion that the Maserati owner is guilty as charged. To Tolentino, there is no need for the other side, who, after all, could afford to hire a lawyer to speak for him while his man has no money to pay for lawyer’s fees.